Jobs at DOC: Robyn Orchard – Communications and Engagement Advisor

Department of Conservation —  02/11/2012

Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile Robyn Orchard, Communications and Engagement Advisor.

Name: Robyn Orchard.

Position: Communications and Engagement Advisor Tongariro-Whanganui-Taranaki (TWT) and East Coast Bay of Plenty).

Robyn and Mavis at the Sika Show in Taupō with a kowhai and weta painted on their faces.

Robyn and her ‘little sister’ Mavis (mentor with Big Brother Big Sister) at the recent Sika Show in Taupō, who both got face paintings from staff at the DOC stands. Robyn sported the kowhai and Mavis the weta!

At work…


What kind of things do you do in your role?

A male whio/blue duck on the banks of a river.

The male whio I got up close and personal with on a recent trip into Waimana Valley

That’s a really good question and not that easy to answer as I have only been in the role (one of the new ones) for less than three months! But here goes.

As Communications and Engagement Advisor for DOC across both the Tongariro-Whanganui-Taranaki and East Coast Bay of Plenty areas. I provide communications, marketing and engagement advice.  I also work with DOC looking for new opportunities to grow, support and increase the value of conservation.

As well as working on some major national projects such as Whio Forever and the Great Walks, I am also involved in other projects such as Conservation Management Strategies and  Engagement Growth Plans. In Tongariro-Whanganui-Taranaki I work on the strategic direction, Destination planning for Taranaki, Tongariro and the Great Lake and in ECBOP on Central Park, Te Urewera Rainforest route, the Community Volunteers conference and the Tarawera Trail.

As you will have gathered, mine is a shared role, so it is lucky I am a middle child and am used to sharing 🙂

Tuhoe Waimana Kaumatua Paki Te Pou and Robyn crossing the stream on a horse.

Tuhoe Waimana Kaumatua Paki Te Pou and me (the one nearly falling off into the river) on Raven doing one of our many river crossings

What is the best part about your job?

They say that variety is the spice of life and that’s what I love about this new job. Every day is different and I am constantly learning new things.

I am very much a people person so meeting the many people throughout my conservancies who are so passionate about what they do, that it rubs off on you, and is one of the bonuses of my role!

Whio Recovery Group Leader Andy Glaser crosses the stream on horseback.

Whio Recovery Group Leader Andy Glaser on Ziggy Pop and Neo the Whio dog during our Te Urewera Whio adventure

What is the hardest part about your job?

Learning the DOC-isms and all the DOC systems.

What led you to your role in DOC?

Right time right place! An ad in the local newspaper just at the time I was looking for a new challenge. And I think this role is definitely challenging but rewarding.

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

A trip into Te Urewera National Park, Waimana Valley for an up close whio encounter with staff from DOC, Genesis, a film crew and some media.

What better way to start a week than jumping up behind Tuhoe Waimana Kaumatua Paki Te Pou on Raven the horse, and trekking back and forth across the river to check traplines, walking with Whio Recovery Group Leader Andy Glaser and his Whio dog Neo seeking out the distinct endangered blue duck.

I wasn’t so keen on Andy’s Whio wake up whistle at around 5am but overall it was one of those memorable experiences, the kind that I am looking forward to having working for DOC.

The rule of three…

Three loves

  1. Family – husband Dave and daughter Hannah 21, and also the extended whanau which includes our ten international host sons and daughters from around the world who lived with us for their year at school here in New Zealand.
  2. Travel – with sons and daughters (and two host grand daughters) in France, Finland, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, USA, Italy, Argentina, Greenland and Iceland, international travel takes on a whole new light. Staying with ‘family’ you see the real culture and taste the real cuisine.
  3.  Good Friends – I love to get together and socialise with good friends.
Robyn and her family with the family of her "host son" in Argentina.

Christmas and New Year in Argentina with our host son Leo was an amazing experience – eating a very meat based Christmas dinner at 11pm on Xmas Eve meant dessert wasn’t started ’til well into Christmas Day!

Three pet peeves

  1. Lateness.
  2. Lack of, or bad, manners.
  3. Nana drivers!

Three foods

  1. Real Italian gelato.
  2. Central Otago Christmas Black Dawson Cherries.
  3. My Italian host son’s chocolate tiramisu.

Three favourite places in New Zealand

  1. Great Lake Taupō (that’s why we live here).
  2. Alexandra (where I grew up).
  3. Mt Ruapehu (isn’t that why we live here).

Favourite movie, album, book

  • Movie: I Love musicals – so classics like The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and Mama Mia.
  • Album: The classic movie soundtracks that I can sing along to in the car.
  • Book: I can’t really admit to being a Harry Potter fan so it will have to be anything by Lee Childs or David Baldacci (physcological thrillers)
Jenny Burke, Corporate Brand and Community Investment Executive Genesis Energy, me,  Sarah Murray from Sunday magazine (Sunday Star Times supplement) and Sophie Barclay from Element magazine (NZ Herald supplement) .

Jenny Burke, Corporate Brand and Community Investment Executive Genesis Energy, me, Sarah Murray from Sunday magazine (Sunday Star Times supplement) and Sophie Barclay from Element magazine (NZ Herald supplement)

Deep and meaningful…

What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

You can do it reach for the moon, achieve all your dreams. But remember a perm in curly hair makes you look like Janet Frame.

Who or what inspires you and why?

I am inspired everyday by smiles. By those people that overcome adversity, challenges and incredible obstacles but continue to throw themselves into life and smile.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A primary school teacher or a nun (such a cool outfit), but when I heard they didn’t get paid that well I went off that idea.

And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

Rich – having won lotto first division I would be travelling the world visiting family, friends and that 3-year-old boy (that I sponsor) and his village in Malawi!

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

Turn it off and recycle.

Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work?

Leave the car at home – ride or walk more. I’m really looking forward to moving into our new office so I can walk to work. And the bike in the garage won’t ride itself!

If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

It would have to be the kea – they are so cheeky I think I might be a human kea already!

Robyn's smiling face.

Yep, people say I have the personality of a kea

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

Take care of the environment today so it is there for our grandchildren tomorrow.